Sunday, November 15, 2009

Velvet Revolution 20th Anniversary Concert

“I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.” Vaclav Havel
Sometimes I get lucky. Last night was one of those nights.

I attended the very special concert and celebration to mark the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.It was held before a few hundred people in the intimate setting of Pražská křižovatka -- Prague Crossroads at the Church of St. Anne.

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, the playwright who helped inspire and lead the revolution, was the guest of honor.The performers were Joan Baez, Suzanne Vega, Lou Reed, and Renee Fleming.Highlights included Reed's performance of "Dirty Boulevard," Vega singing "Tom's Diner" backed by the orchestra, Fleming's "Ave Maria" and Baez's rendition of "We Shall Overcome," which the audience joined in singing.

We were on a high as we walked out of the concert hall on such a beautiful fall evening. A drink was in order and nowhere could be more appropriate than Divadlo na zábradlí -- Theater on the Balustrade -- where Havel got his start as a playwright.

It was just around the corner. I had a feeling that the concert's after-party could be there because there was a chalkboard by the door with a sign that said: "♥ 9p-1a" A heart is Havel's symbol -- he always draws one after his signature.

Then I thought I must be wrong. The theater's bar was relatively empty, and we got seats at a table right in the middle. But then, it turned out, I was right. Just a few minutes later, a parade of celebrities began arriving.

There was former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright with former Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who pulled up a chair across from us.He then got a kiss from Joan Baez.Lou Reed got a lot of attention when he walked in with a couple of security guys.Renee Fleming and Suzanne Vega were also there, but I was having such a good time, I didn't take photos. Or perhaps I'd had too many vodkas at that point.

There were also some big Czech names at the party, such as the artist, David Cerny.The actor Pavel Liška was holding court at another table.There was a VIP room off to the side of the bar, but everyone was moving in and out, including us. It was all very relaxed and casual.And, of course, the guest of honor was there.As with so many other things, it wouldn't have been the same without him.

The concert was shown on Czech television, but I made my own video of the concert highlights and after-party.
All photos copyright of Czech Please ©


Tomas Novotny said...

Hi, please can I use your photos on Theatre Na zabradli web site?


Tomas Novotny

Brewsta said...

Hello Tomas,

Yes, you can use any of the photos on the theater's website.

I would only ask that you put somewhere on your site, "Photos courtesy of Czech Please" or "© Czech Please" somewhere in small type on the pictures.

Great party, great night!


Tomas Novotny said...

Thanks, it´s on homepage:

Miguel said...

Hello Brewsta.
Is the first time that I see your blog, and my very best whises for it. I am an spanish journalist and blogger and i just started last month to live in Czech Republic. I would llike to wirte an article about bloggers in Czech Republic and i would really appreciate if you have free time for an interview during the week.

best regards,

Brewsta said...

Miguel - you can find my email address under my profile on the blog. Please write me a note and tell me what publication you would write for, what the them is for your article, and what kind of information you want to know.

Nick said...

Great article, Brewsta. Celebrity sightings are always fun :)

What did Havel drink?

Brewsta said...

White wine. Though he's usually a beer man and not averse to a shot now and then.

Unknown said...

Was that John Bok nibbling at Havel's patience right at the end?

Brewsta said...

I think so, but not 100% sure either. That does look like his black hat and beard.

Anonymous said...

That is an excellent article Brewsta, thanks for that. Strong echoes of the revolutionary days.